This is not how music criticism works, pt 2.

People will tell you that words cannot describe music, that the two experiences are too far apart to ever connect, that the language of one does not feed into the language of the other, and so forth. People are wrong.

If you want to be pedantic and literal about it then there are no way photographs or paintings can capture landscapes, news reportage comment upon everyday events, headlines to be representative of anything, songs to capture emotion. These are all mediated experiences, as is writing about music. Of course you can describe music with words. No, the words are not the music itself, but they can spark associations, interpretations, meanings, knowledge, insight, enthusiasm…

To do so you need to familiarise ourselves with the relatable terminology for the sounds you hear (much of music journalism is jargon, language designed to be interpreted by an audience already familiar with the form and the art). Words can easily convey the mood and emotion of listening to music: in fact, words can go far beyond this and convey other moods and emotions and knowledge and insight, and filters gained through the experience of listening to music.

You do need to be aware however that there is poorly written music journalism, just as there is poorly formulated music or TV shows. Something poorly written can look like a call-sheet of outdated buzzwords that mean nothing. A piece that is brilliantly inventive and engaging, however, can revive dormant (or active) real-life associations for the reader to the point where they can hear it in their ears.

No almost about it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s